Top 8 Reasons Why You MUST Use Social Media in Your Media Relations Strategy

Developing and executing strategic media relations, more than often sits at the core of key competencies as public affairs, communications and Public Relations (PR) professionals. We are hired to bring optimal results when using media to leverage particular needs to advantage either profit or not-for-profit ventures.

In the past, most media strategies would encompass a combination of communications tactics designed to speak directly to your targeted audience. Ever since H.S. Adams asked in 1902 the obligatory question, ‘What is publicity?’ many are still asking. Twenty one years after Adams, Edward Bernays continued this line of thinking in his book, ‘Crystallizing Public Relations,’ were he qualified the essence of public relations as, ‘…the freedom to persuade or suggest.’

Today, persuasion continues to drive communications by using particular tactics to gain influence. This is true whether to advance policy or sell shoes. This assertion is a constant but how we build and cultivate this influence is changing everyday – especially in digital and social media.

Social media, as part of a strong digital strategy, has provided communicators an abundance of targeted audiences, all indelibly linked by their preferred communities and affiliations. Richard D. Lewis’ ‘When Cultures Collide,’ mentions this ‘gift of community’ to also include small groups of influencers or advocates ready and willing to take your message forward and forward, and forward. You get the idea.

As media experts, we must be implicit with our intent that all media relations planning will include a social media component. By hard-wiring a digital strategy – including social media – into your media event goals and objectives, you will tap into this relatively new landscape offering many rewards.

No longer is it enough to merely contact print, broadcast or online news media to pitch your events. We owe it to our clients to bring innovation to our results by utilizing the many benefits of social media.

In my experience as a media relations expert, here is a short list to help you get the toes firmly within your digital footprint when developing your media strategy.

Top 8 Reasons Why You MUST Use Social Media in Your Media Relations Strategy

  1. Content: Good news content will often persuade but not necessarily market. News media is very different than simply marketing products to particular customers. Your original pitch to journalists must include the array of online content being provided as part of your planned digital media outreach. Make sure your story is compelling and dynamic by using content to support, not sell, your editorial needs.
  2. Credibility: Recommendations from credible sources is fundamental to your news story gaining ‘legs’ online. A credible reporter quoting a knowledgeable and respected spokesperson offers distribution of trust in your story to both online communities and followers. This will provide you ‘social proof’ your efforts are getting noticed online. Don’t forget, at the same time you are developing community.
  3. Reciprocity: There is no greater realm for human interaction than social media. Interacting and socializing is a primal need for all of us. Part of this need is to share what is good with others. A news story can be shared as a positive gesture by giving back this information to your community so they have the ability, as you did, to support and recommend to others.
  4. Teach: In traditional media we spend long days grooming our media partners to understand our business. This priority should not change with your social media approach. Educating not just your media partner but also your influencers is critical to maintaining a robust social media contact list. Take the time to work with them online and they will be invaluable to you for future endeavours.
  5. Storytelling: You have heard this time and time again how important your ability to tell a fascinating and relevant story is to gaining influence and advocacy in your media approach. If you don’t take the time to develop a narrative, they will bail and you will never see them again – in about 3 seconds online.
  6. Transparency: Whether your media outreach is a photo op, presser, editorial board or launch event, it is all about building trust BEFORE you pitch. Working your social media channels by cultivating relationships will help frame your trust with each of your community managers, followers or advocates. They will extol this forward in 14 characters or less.
  7. Community: Building community that celebrates aligned goals is imperative in any communication or public affairs outreach. This is especially true in large urban cities containing a multitude of different cultures. Each of which will expect a clear understanding of its people and their individual heritage. Online is no different. Categorizing different communities and their cultures will help you establish respect and consideration to advance your media goals. Although these diverse communities are coming online at a slower rate, they will be plentiful shortly and it’s best get a jump on this now.
  8. Access: In the American Press Institute’s research, 42% of online adults use multiple social media networking devices. Out of this, 73% use these devices to get their news and over half will create their own ‘personal news cycle’ by configuring news alerts. It is imperative as professionals we abide this new behaviour with our planning and execution.

I know I said eight reasons, but really one of the more obvious factors around why all media outreach should include an active social media component.

 53% of registered journalists in the U.S. have 500+ followers on Twitter and 55% of their workday is consumed within social media.

Heck, it’s now half their job!


Dear Video. You’re Still Hot!

Awe yes, my good friend video. From Beta to VHS to DVD to iMovie. What a pal you have been, and continue to be for communications and PR. You have helped us mitigate risk by telling a discernible yarn of what happened – and most importantly, when it will be fixed. You have helped leading manufacturers become the best in the world by training their employees on standard operating procedures; all by watching a movie. With a filter or two, you have allowed us to put on some ‘slap’ when the story is dull and ordinary. You have made our storytelling to be compelling so our clients become closer to their customers.

For many years, frame by frame, you have served our industry well, but at what cost?

Every year you say you need more dollars so you can keep up with the latest trends to ‘look good’ for clients. This seems fair, but when probed further you begin to list all your associates that will need to be included in order for you to ‘look good.’

First you say you need a producer to ‘produce’ the story. A director to capture and conceptualize the story. A videographer to shoot the story. A writer, that will put words into the mouths of many… and so on and so on and so on.

My good friend video, I hate to break this to you. In today’s world you are just too darn expensive. Your associates are good and talented people but I cannot support all of you at one time.

Why you say?

It’s actually quite simple, I am operating on one-tenth the budget of two years ago and I just don’t have the money for you to ‘look good’ any more. At lease to the extent you are accustomed to.

So I old chum I put this question to you. Isn’t ‘looking good’ relative to what we are both working towards?

I say it is.

I bought a new Canon T5i DSLR with decent resolution that helps me shoot BOTH video and stills just by slinging a bag across my shoulders. I have a program called iMovie on my computer that helps either me, or my staff, assemble a pretty decent video. To top it all off, 80% of client videos are produced for what is called social media. You may have heard of it. It’s a channel allowing not just one-way communication but embraces two-way communication.

So do not fear my friend. You will continue to ‘look good’ because we will take the time to buy the books and do the research and learn how to shoot and cut a good video. We will promise to do all the things your associates have taught us with one big difference.

Because we can.

Even past the Canon, as iPhones become the arriflex of the back pocket, do not worry, you will always ‘look good’ because you are our friend and we care.

If you still don’t believe me have a look at a grassroots video below. This was produced by myself and Ross Fitzgerald entirely in-house for the Campaign For All Canadians at Canadian Blood Services to promote a worthy and important cause – building a National Public Cord Blood Bank in Canada.

Subject matter aside, you look fantastic!